Archive for September, 2012

Here’s a trailer for the videogame that Greg mentioned in our meeting on September 26, 2012 (just passing along for anyone who wanted to see it again, or find out more about it):


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The group met last night to discuss Redliners by David Drake.   Here’s a bit of what people had to say —

  • Hola started us out by remarking that there were some elements of the book that she really liked — his war here is exactly what war is like.  She said it read like an army classic, and had an excellent portrayal of both military and civilian life.  She also felt that the book had a timeless quality to it, and could be set in any war — and also, that it’s accurate in this book that in war, people die, sometimes suddenly.   She did say, however, that this really isn’t her kind of book, although it is very realistic.   She also stated that, as a vegetarian, she thought it was hilarious that plants were killers.
  • Menolly said that she is not a military fiction reader.  She did like some of the devices Drake uses, such as having the alien world full of evil plants … but felt this was contrived **Spoiler Alert** , especially since, at the end, we discover everything has been manufactured.  She found the military-civilian relationship to be predictable, as well, although she liked some of the characters.  Naberius was another reader who doesn’t read military science fiction, although she does read nonfiction about wars (WWI and WWII, etc), and while she didn’t feel the book really resonated for her, appreciated that Drake made war very realistic.
  • Mike said the book was nonstop mayhem, and while he didn’t necessarily enjoy it, he found it interesting (and actually wished it were a bit longer).  He wanted to know more about the government authority that could order civilians into such a situation.  Mike also said, “The giant snail was a bit much,” and felt this part, in particular, felt like Drake was writing for a screenplay.  However, he liked how Drake gives us the point of view of the soldiers (which reminded him of Harry Harrison’s Death World and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War).   He liked the book, and said it’s one he would recommend to other readers.
  • Pokéthulu found the book refreshing, especially since she has a lot of friends who read a lot of John Ringo.  She liked the multiple points of view, how the civilians interacted with the military, and also felt Drake wrote realistically, especially about the adrenaline rush of being in a battle situation.
  • Furry said she was amazed by the variety of the diabolical plants in this book, but said, “I don’t think I would like to hang out with this author.”  She wondered where all the animals were, but then, considering the ending, it made sense.  However, she said the unity government made no sense to her — how could there be any semblance of civilization if you take children and put them in a situation like this?  She understood the whole military-civilian bonding idea, but said the sacrifice made sense.  Hola, in response, said that she felt that “the greater good,” was the justification in this story, and that considering the people making that decision were somewhat removed from humanity, it made sense.    aNON said he thought the story could have been changed to have civilians volunteer for this colonization, but Drake needed cannon fodder.   Ed, though, said that he felt that in this story, there needed to be something to show society what these military personnel did, and what their experiences were like.  He said that a lot of time, in real life, people tend to forget what life is like for active military, and in this story, Drake makes all of that very clear.   Terry stated that she liked some of the characters, and agreed that ordinary people tend to be so far removed from what happens in war situations if they aren’t where they are (like, in another part of the world) — and was surprised that Drake didn’t kill off more people.
  • We did have some general, back-and-forth discussion about some elements in the book, such as the almost-rape scene (which led to a bit of debate about the use of “clawed”, a word which Drake uses, and “gouged,” which Naberius would have much preferred).  Mike made the point that there is a lot of violence in this story, although it isn’t gratuitous — it is the violence of war, and other readers agreed with this.  Some readers mentioned that they were wondering where the element of any negotiation was — this story follows the typical “human meets alien, human wants to eliminate alien” kind of storyline (as opposed to the Star Trek First Contact/Prime Directive rule).   We also had a bit of discussion of the spiritual overtones in the book, and the roles Drake assigns to some characters.
  • Ed mentioned that it took him a while to get into the story, and at first, he felt like drawing up a chart of the characters … but then soon realized this would be useless (considering how many characters die off …. and how in war, anyway, there are no guarantees).  aNON said that he also didn’t know who people were, or where they were going, and wanted a bit more detail.   Ed agreed, but made the point that the way Drake writes about what happens to characters is more realistic.   However, the general point made about character confusion was something that some other readers mentioned, as well.
  • The fact that Drake gives us killer vegetation made for some good discussion (and some funny comments, as well).  For some readers, it was inventive, but for other readers, was a bit much.   Kathleen said that the “relentless hostility of the vegetation became the star, taking precedence of the struggles of the humans against it.”  For her, this was something Drake overworked, and it became too redundant for her.
  • We also talked about character development in this book.  Menolly pointed out that she tends to prefer more character-driven stories, and this book is definitely action-drive.  She found the pace to be steady, and almost unrelenting, which was something other readers echoed.   Hola said that she also felt, in addition to the steady pace, that the reader is just plunged into this story — and she found it easier to just not worry about the details, give herself over to the story, and then hope it would come together and make sense.     Kathleen, on the other hand, felt that it was very difficult to find any empathy for the strikers because there is no back story provided for any of them, and the reader is just plunged into the action, almost as if the reader is an additional member of the striker team, but without any emotional connection.
  • As far as Drake’s writing style is concerned, readers had differing reactions.  Hola, for example, liked how Drake would work a little sentence into every chapter, like “a human comment.”   Naberius, on the other hand, found that when Drake did this kind of thing, it interrupted the pacing.  For her, it was like: “Kill, kill, kill ….. oh look how the sunbeam is shining upon the leaves there …. Kill, kill, kill.”      With Drake’s writing, some readers stated the book felt relatively timeless; that this could be Vietnam, it could be in the future, etc.   However, aNON mentioned that in his experience, he had read many fiction books published after Vietnam, and felt this book was too predictable — he felt like this was an old story he had already ready before.   Naberius also wondered what the heck the sound of “lions vomiting,” is (which led Pokéthulu to make a comment about a huge alien hairball on the loose).
  • One person, who had suggested this book to the group, had some good feedback for readers who had questions about the author, or parts of the story.  To him, the book is a work of art, and he really appreciates what Drake does in this book.   He said, “you don’t believe in God until you’ve been betrayed by Him,” and Redliners is about the faith you have when you’ve lost everything else.   He noted that Drake’s narrative in this story helps us understand the reality of what happens when people are sent out to annihilate other people — and when those people come back into civilian life, their situation/emotional state needs to be understood.   For him, Drake is the right person at the right time for this narrative.    Mike II commented that he respects Drake’s military service, and in this book, it seems like he’s telling us about it is to readjust to civilian life, and about the typical relationship of the protector and the protected.
  • Furry noted that this book might be a good read for any young person thinking of enlisting.  For people who grew up with Vietnam, there was an understanding of what war was like, and what it did to people, but a lot of young people right now don’t have that same kind of experience.    Hola mentioned that this also might be a good “gateway” book for SF, for readers who enjoy military fiction.

David Drake, on his own website, says this: “REDLINERS is possibly the best thing I’ve written. It’s certainly the most important thing, both to me personally and to the audience I particularly care about: the veterans, the people who’ve been there, wherever ‘there’ happened to be. Having said that, Redliners isn’t a book for everybody. It’s very tough even by my standards, and to understand the novel’s underlying optimism you have to have been some very bad places.”

As you can see, we had a great discussion, and probably could have continued (if we had been able to stay after the library closed).    Have you read this book and would like to leave a comment?  Please do!

The codes chosen for this book were: MIL, XEN, BOT (botany), ETH, ECO and HRO.   The average rating was a 3.5

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There are a number of new SF-F paperbacks coming to the library — so I thought I’d give you a sample —-


Alchemystic by Anton Strout (Spellmason Chronicle, #1)

Black Lament by Christina Henry (Black Wings, #4)

Clean by Alex Hughes

Ghost of a Dream by Simon Green (Ghostfinders, #3)

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley

Soul Trade by Caitlin Kittredge (Black London, #5)

Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (Edge, #4)

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I like to give a sample (just to whet your appetite) of some of the new books on order for the SF-F and the PB SF-F sections — to show some of the shiny awesomeness that’s going to hit the shelves  (and yes, you may have holds placed on any of these so you can be one of the first people to grab them).    🙂

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

An Apple for the Creature by Charlaine Harris and others

Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top by Ekaterina Sedia and others

Death Warmed Over by Kevin Anderson

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism: A Novella by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden

Labyrinth of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores by Greg Ketter and others

Stark and Wormy Knight: Tales of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Suspense by Tad Williams and others

Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Miles Vorkosigan, #14)

Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, #14)

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters, #6)

Judgment at Proteus by Timothy Zahn (Quadrail, #5)

A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time, #14)

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Since we have some people in the book group who also read graphic novels, I thought I’d let you know some of the awesome new titles coming to the GN section (this is just a sampling of what’s coming):

Alice in the Country of Hearts  (volumes 1, 2 and 3)

Fables 6

A Game of Thrones, the graphic novel, #2

Batgirl 1: The Darkest Reflection

The Clockwork Sky 1

Fatale 1: Death Chases Me

The Underwater Welder

As I mentioned, this is just a sample of some of the new graphic novels coming to the GN section soon.   There are also the newest volumes of Black Butler, Bleach, Blue Exorcist, Bunny Drop, Inuyasha and Naruto on order.

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I saw a bookmark for this when I was at Chicon recently, and while I haven’t listened to any of the stories yet, I’m planning on listening to some soon.

Podcastle is “The world’s first audio fantasy magazine” and they have loads of stories that

you can listen to on your PC or your MP3 player.   Here’s their PAGE.

And … if you like horror, there’s Pseudopod, which is devoted to horror. 

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Winner of the Best Novel

I did a post a while back when the Hugo Award nominees were announced, but the winners were announced this last weekend at Chicon.

You can read all about it HERE  (and also, go look on John Scalzi’s blog if you want to read his take on things)

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